The Rajya Sabha secretariat noted in a report that a former CPI(M) Rajya Sabha member from West Bengal booked 63 train tickets in January 2019 but used only seven of them. The issue was raised in the report when the said parliamentarian sought reimbursement of all 63 tickets. The government has to pay Rs.1,69,005 for these tickets in total while the cost of tickets on which he travelled was only Rs.22,085. That makes an extra payment of Rs.1,46,920 that could have been easily avoided if the former Rajya Sabha member cancelled the tickets on time.
Travel benefits for former Parliamentarians
Former Parliamentarians get travel allowance from the government and can travel for free in the first AC coach if travelling alone. If they are with a companion, they can ask for reimbursement for an AC Tier-II ticket.
Not an isolated case
The Rajya Sabha secretariat noted in the report that this is not an isolated case. They have found several instances when former and current Members of Parliament book multiple tickets but do not use all of them. However, they do seek reimbursement for all the tickets. In another similar case, a sitting member of Rajya Sabha used on 15 per cent of the tickets booked during January 2019 but sought reimbursement for all.
Railway sent bill worth Rs.7.8 Crore
For the calendar year 2019, Railway has sent bills totalling to Rs.7.8 Crore for ticket expenses of former and sitting lawmakers. It covers one-third of the total bill amount raised for the tickets bought by former and sitting lawmakers, their companions, and their spouses. Lok Sabha will pay the remaining two-third bill.
Inquiry initiated on Vice President’s orders
When Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu came to know about the issue, he asked Rajya Sabha secretariat to initiate and inquiry. The Rajya Sabha secretariat has issued an advisory in which they asked the sitting and former members to cancel unused tickets. If they fail to cancel the tickets on time, the amount will be recovered from the lawmakers.